No matter how good you are at your business and no matter how smart you are, you can always improve by checking out the competition. It is a mistake to think competitors large and small have nothing to teach you.
A healthy ego is good, conceit can be fatal.
Several years ago I did freelance consulting for a company whose founders thought they were the smartest players in their industry. They spent a great deal of time telling everyone who would listen how much smarter they were than their competitors. When competitors reacted to changes in the law and the employment pool my clients refused. They would take advice and then ignore it after two days if it was something they had not thought of first. After all, they were smart, so much smarter than their competitors, employees, and paid advisors they saw no reason to listen to advice from anyone else. They had egos, strong healthy egos. Based on their ego and their intelligence, they thought they knew best in all areas about all things. They saw no reason to listen to anyone else.
Keep in mind, that this client hired sales managers, lawyers, and consultants that were respected in their various industries. The paid advisors met on a regular basis and worked together to develop winning strategies and plans. At industry conferences, competitors talked with my clients about how changes in laws and the employment pool would impact business. Competitors talked with them about things happening with suppliers that would impact business. My clients could not care less if they tried. They would not take advice from others. In the end, ego and conceit cost my clients their business. Their unwillingness to learn from others caused them to miss opportunities, handle things incorrectly and in the end go out of business.
There is a fine line between a healthy, strong ego and dangerous conceit. Ego is what causes a person to go into business, take risks and stay in business year after year even when things are hard. Conceit causes entrepreneurs to think they cannot learn from others and go out of business. When it comes to running your business be careful to get all you can and can all you get. This means that you should keep in mind that every person and every competitor can teach you something you need to know in order to run your business better.
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A smart entrepreneur should always be learning.
It is not easy to be a successful entrepreneur. An entrepreneur must pay attention to:
– cash flow
– tax obligations
– debt service
– employee costs
– customer service
– a million other things
In addition, in order to be successful, an entrepreneur must also make time to continually learn. Teachers, lawyers, and doctors are required to participate in continuing education opportunities in order to keep their licenses. Even if your business is one where continuing education is required, you should make an effort to continually learn new things Be encouraged and know that learning takes place in more places than just the classroom. Go to networking events, fund-raisers, and the local chamber of commerce functions in order to see what is going on with businesses around you.
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Your competition sees things in your industry and may have a perspective that while different from yours is useful and relevant. In addition, your competitors deal with a different set of customers, deal with different problems and get different perspectives than you. This means they learn things you may not know that may be beneficial for you. No matter how much more successful you are than your competitors, they may be able to teach you things to make your business better.
As an entrepreneur, it is important to always be learning and to remember that lessons come from anywhere. Also, don’t forget to check out the competition. So, the question for you on this thrilling day is, what can you learn from your competition?
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